Monday, July 25, 2016

Blog Biz: 10 things I learned from 10 years of blogging

Hello everybody! I disappeared again. This July has been super busy. Lots of changes, lots of work happening. Hence the blog neglect. That's not a good thing. This blog is my job now so I should never neglect it!!! That's one of the things I learned in my 10 years of blogging. So I was inspired to write this post for you!

Thank you all for the warm wishes that you left on my 10th anniversary post last May, my blog's anniversary month. Yes, 10 years is a lot of time doing something and I'm glad the time I spent on blogging has reaped rewards. I got a few emails from readers who said that they're just beginning to blog and they want to know if I had more advice than the ones I gave the last time. So, because I'm feeling generous, instead of doing a workshop and charging people to unlock my blogging secrets, I'll share them here in my second Blog Biz episode!

Dear new bloggers, here are 10 things I learned from 10 years of blogging:

The story is important.
Blogging is storytelling. Even when you create a blog that's just full of images, you can tell a good story. With blogs, you have so much space to create a story, something other media like magazines and newspapers and other social media platforms can't offer. Unlike with print, for example, you're not limited by a word count, a number of pages, an editor, and an editorial budget. You can do whatever you want with your blog so nothing should hold you back from telling a good story.

Why must it be a good story? Well, because online readers are fickle. If you can't hold their attention, they can quickly move on to another tab on their browser. So make your content count! Tell a good story!

Readers expect honesty.
Blogs started as online diaries. I guess that's what made them so popular. They were a peek into someone else's life, they were a bridge across worlds, they were a path to friendships. Now, they're also brands, businesses, and platforms to promote one's pursuits and advocacies. Blogs have really evolved! But what remains is the expectation of readers that you're being honest with them, that what you share is authentic. So be honest, be true, be real.

Love is all you need.
Blogging isn't for everyone. Its very nature of sharing does raise concerns—it invites criticism and ridicule, even hate. There are privacy issues, too. So if you come into blogging hoping for fame and riches but you're not ready for the trolls, the fans, the dedication, and the work, you will not succeed in blogging. You need to love blogging and to love it so much, you're willing to put in the hours and face the consequences of putting yourself out there. You gotta love it! Love for blogging is what will keep you going.

Discipline and deadlines mean more than inspiration.
Before my kids came, I had no problems with blogging. I blogged whenever inspiration hit me and it hit me often. Now that I'm a mom of three, however, finding time to blog is near impossible. And that's a problem. Readers like checking back for new updates. If there are none, they get disappointed and then they don't come back. I know this from experience. That's why I love my dear Loyal Readers—thanks for always checking back!

Don't wait for inspiration. Blog regularly. Even once a week helps. When readers know the times you blog (Mondays? MWF? Weekdays? Every day at 10am?), they come back for more. It helps to create an editorial calendar and a schedule of deadlines to keep yourself blogging. This is advice I need to follow!!!

Giveaways don't work.
Nope, they don't. They only attract the wrong market—professional contest joiners who really don't care about you or your blog anyway. You want to attract readers who will be your friends, and you do that with good, honest, regular content.

Keep it clean, people. Keep it clean.
Okay, hate blogs get a lot of traffic. So if that's what you want, skip #6. I've done my few hate posts, rants, and tantrums. It's been 10 years. I'm still trying to edit and delete my posts from the early years, when I was such a whiny brat. I've learned that negativity attracts negativity and there's a lot of negative people in the world. I've found that even though I enjoy gossip, I don't like it on my blogs. I've done it—I used to be an entertainment journalist—and while those posts got lots of hits, I also got a lot of hate. I don't want that. You don't want that either.

The world is still full of good people.
Now don't let what I wrote above scare you from blogging. Yes, there's a lot of hateful people in the world, but I've discovered to my complete thrill and joy that there is more love, compassion and generosity, too. I've found real friends through my blog. Complete strangers have sent me emails of such profound wisdom and love, it's crazy. Especially when my babies were born and when my mama died, I truly felt the love and hugs of people from all over the world. Emails, presents, comments! God bless my readers, every single one of you!

Blogging can open doors.
I'm sure you know this one, considering the proliferation of bloggers who are now formidable brands with followings that make them celebrities. I don't see myself as a famous blogger. You only need to check my social media stats to confirm this. But blogging has opened so many doors for me. My blog is now our main source of income. I've done videos for brands. I represent brands as an ambassador (the photo above is for the Biogenic Alcohol campaign). I've done PR and marketing for brands, too. My latest gig: I am now a public speaker. Despite my awful voice and my propensity to nervous gestures onstage, people seem to enjoy my talks. Either that or people really like my blog! So put yourself out there through your blog and see what unlikely doors will open for you!

Open up. Be brave.
Because blogging is all about sharing and you can't share if you're afraid.

Life first.
If your blog is already a business, of course you need to focus on it. But the foundation of your stories is your life so if you're parked all day in front of your computer, what life will you talk about? I noticed that even though I feature a lot of sponsored posts, it's my posts on my life and my family that get the thousands of hits. Why? Let's go back to #2: Readers want authenticity. They want to see the real you and the real you needs to have a life. So live a real and full life. That's the kind of life worth writing about!

So there you go, dear Loyal Readers! The 10 things I learned from 10 years of blogging. How about you—what are your lessons? Do share!

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Piero's 2nd birthday party!!!

Hello everybody! Here comes the traditional post-birthday photo essay!!!

But, first, a refresher: My youngest boy, Piero, celebrated his second birthday last Sunday. It was a tiny affair, just us the parents and the bros. Since the kids wake up really early, we (that's Vince and me) had no choice but to do the birthday party before 8am. So we're super groggy and sleepy while the kids are so energetic and excited!

Look! Super ready na si Piero! Nice shirt, nice hair!

And the cake is here! Happy birthday, Piero! Happy birthday, Piero!

Happy birthday, happy birthday...

Happy birthday, Piero! Now make a wish, sweetheart!

And may all your heart's desires come true!

He's so pogi!

He's so happy!

Now for the requisite attempts at family photos:

That wasn't so bad, although I should've brushed my hair haha

Piero and his Papa.

Piero and his dinosaurs. We were supposed to have a Hulk Smash! party but I didn't have the energy to make Hulk stuff. So, since Piero loves Peppa Pig's brother George who loves dinosaurs, we did dinosaurs!

And here come the gifts!

You can tell he's pretty pleased with his big gift!

But he let his brothers assemble it because he's the boss like that.

Then playtime!!!

They spent the rest of the day playing! And for the next few days, too. Our house is littered with toy cars and baby boys yelling and having a grand time. So it's still Piero's birthday here at home!

Happy birthday again, dear Piero! We love you!

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Raising kids in the time of blogging

Today, while the house is quiet as my little boys are sound asleep, I'm going to stare at my littlest one bathed in the faint light of my computer screen and bless him.

From left: Iñigo, Vito, and birthday boy Piero. 

Piero turns 2 today. My wee wonderful wildling. He's very physical, this boy. When he's happy, he throws himself at you. When he's sad, he hugs you tight. When he's really sad, he tumbles onto the floor in despair. When he's sorry, he rubs your tummy and then squeezes your tummy fats haha. And when he's mad at you, he'll fling his tiny fists at you with all his might. We're working on that last part since we don't want him to be violent. 

And now I feel like I shouldn't have revealed that. I don't talk much about my youngest. I'm only beginning to process the reasons why, now that he's 2.

It's been strange having babies in the time of social media. In the beginning, with Vito, wow, I practically blogged his whole life for everyone to know. He smiled today! He ate today! He rolled off the bed today yikes! He sat up today! He crawled, he stood up, he walked, he did everything! I don't know if it was because I was a first-time mom in the age of blogging, but it felt really good to share my mommy life to everyone, mostly because people were so interested.

Then my second baby, Iñigo, was born. While I didn't feel the same urge to share (because I was just too tired haha), Iñigo was the crowd favorite. Of my three children, he's the one with the fans club. Just as people clamored for Vito, Iñigo also had an audience who asked for photos and updates. In fact, he's the brand favorite, the one brands wanted to throw parties for and gifts at.

Then Piero came. No one was happy to find out I was pregnant for the third time (sorry, link is dead - my mommy blog is hidden now). Just me and Vince. We were over the moon to be pregnant again, but people treated us like we were irresponsible. It's very strange to be in your late 30s, earning really well, with a fully owned house and car, and people still treated the news of your third pregnancy like you were teenagers who had an accident. "Was this planned?" was a question I got a lot. Yes, Piero was planned, anticipated, and welcomed with so much love! And since Piero turned out to be so lovable and absolutely perfect, everyone soon fell in love with him, too.

Piero loves books, Iron Man, The Hulk, and cuddles.

That is, people fell in love with him when I shared him, which I don't do as often as I did with Vito and Iñigo. Because no one initially welcomed Piero, I'm very protective of him. I feel like he is for me and my family alone, not for sharing, as I had done with his brothers before him. Piero, therefore, enjoys just a wee bit more privacy than his older brothers. People forget about my third boy. When they see him, they go, "Is this Vito? Oh! You have a third one! What's his name? Pierre? Perio? Pietro? Pedro? What?" Then they promptly forget and we have the same conversation when we meet again.

This is okay. Surprisingly, it's okay. When I still had just one baby, I used to get so annoyed when people didn't get Vito's name. "It's Vito. V, I, T, O. It's not Veto. It's not B2. It's not Don Vito. It's not Jovito. It's just Vito." But now, I don't even tell people Piero's name. "He's my son, yes," and I leave it at that.

Since I was too busy feeding his older brothers at meal times, Piero learned how to feed himself.

I don't want to speak for mothers everywhere who treat their youngest differently. I'm just speaking from what I'm going through. It's been said that the youngest is the closest to the mother's heart. That's not really true. All my boys are dear to me, but Vito and Iñigo are adored enough. In my experience, I dote on Piero extra because no one else dotes on him. Well, Vince and I do. The grand expectations are always on the firstborn. The firstborn is who you share with everyone—it's him everyone asks about: "Is he walking, talking? Is he going to school? Which school?" No one asks those things with the youngest child. It's the firstborn who gets the gifts, the attention. And since people seem to have decided that in their opinion Iñigo is the cutest, they adore him, too. But no one else adores Piero. He's the one who slips through the cracks.

And you know, that's okay with me. I'm not demanding for people to treat him like a star. In fact, I'm grateful that I finally get to revel in motherhood without anyone watching and poking their nosy nose into it. I feel like Piero's the one I don't have to share with anybody. He's the one people left for me to enjoy. And I've talked with other moms who confess to me that they also finally enjoyed motherhood with the third child because people leave them alone now. I guess people think you already know what you're doing by the third kid! Or they don't care anymore. And while this initially bothered me, now I super love it. I do! So much freedom!

His favorite place in the world is in my arms.

I guess I also understand now how my Mama adored my younger siblings. While my older brother and I were pushed to succeed, Mama coddled my younger brother and sister. They were her babies, the light of her life, especially my younger brother. She was a more relaxed mother with them. I never resented this because, well, they really were adorable. But now that I'm a mother, too, I get it. The older children bear the weight of everyone's expectations so of course they're the ones you push and mold and discipline and let go. The younger children, well, no one thinks about them so I guess I can spoil them extra. Like, when Vito goes to school, of course he has to go to school! When Vito graduates, of course he has to graduate! When he leaves home, of course he has to leave home! But when Piero goes, my heart will crumble to dust because there'll be no one left. No, not one.

I'll need to change this attitude, of course. We can't have me raising a spoiled brat. We can't have me treating one son differently. But he's only 2. And I'm going to baby him while I still can. Because they do grow so fast, and my heart is already crumbling at the edges because he's in such a hurry to grow up and be just like his brothers.

Happy birthday, my darling Mr. P! Mama loves you so very much! Tomorrow, I'll write a proper birthday post. Maybe I'll talk about how wonderful you are, and how smart and sweet, how tough and melodramatic you are. Or maybe not. Maybe I'll keep it all in my heart. All I know is you are what this family needed, and we love and appreciate all the chaos and joy you bring every day. God bless you as you have blessed us! We love you, our perfect P!